Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1870)

Sir James Young Simpson © Lothian Health Services Archives, SCAHMS

Queen Victoria’s favourite doctor was Sir James Young Simpson. Although another Christian, Dr James Millar, first used chloroform on a patient during a medical operation, Simpson used chloroform on the Queen when she gave birth to Leopold, which made the practice publically acceptable. He is regarded as the father of anaesthetics and he was also a professor of midwifery. An active Christian, he set up the Medical Dispensary for the poor in Carrubbers Close Mission on the Royal Mile. He was an elder at St Columba’s Free Church.

Once a journalist asked him what was his greatest discovery. He replied clearly, ‘That I am a sinner and that Jesus is a great Saviour!’ Simpson wrote in his personal testimony: ‘But again I looked and saw JESUS, my substitute, scourged in my stead and dying on the cross for me. I looked and cried and was forgiven. And it seems to be my duty to tell you of that Saviour, to see if you will not also look and live: How simple it all becomes when the Holy Spirit opens the eyes!’ From his own personal testimony, Free Church

Plaque in St Giles’ Cathedral, © Paul James-Griffiths